Minnesota Cities Magazine
More from Mar-Apr 2017 issue

Bits & Briefs

Illustration of a police officer on cans of foodFood for Fines
The East Grand Forks Police Department extended good will last winter to both the local food shelf and residents who faced seasonal parking fines.

The department got permission from the City Council to waive the fee associated with certain parking tickets in the month of December if the ticket recipient donated five non-perishable food items.

The “food-for-fines” model has also been used in the city of Stillwater, and that’s where East Grand Forks’ Police Chief Michael Hedlund says he got the idea. In Grand Forks, drivers brought their food items to the Police Department, along with their ticket, and the fine was waived. The department collected approximately 440 pounds of food during the month-long program, Hedlund says. The food-for-fines project is one of several the department has recently undertaken to foster trust and build relationships in the community.

Turn that Brown Upside Down
The City of New Brighton was recently recognized for turning 100 acres of development nightmares—think two Superfund sites, dilapidated buildings, and a former dump—into valuable property ready for commercial, corporate, and residential growth, called the New Brighton Exchange. The city is also incorporating planned park space into the land, and has tied the site’s trail system into an adjacent regional park. For their hard work over more than two decades, the city received the 2016 Minnesota Brownfields ReScape Award for community impact. Learn more at http://mnbrownfields.org/casestudies/new-brighton-exchange.

Pills spilling out of a bottleTwo stacks of pills illustrating increase in opioid-related deaths.A Prescription for Action
The National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties have joined forces to fight the public health crisis of opioid overdoses and abuse. “Opioids” refers to a class of drugs that includes prescription pain killers like Vicodin, as well as the illegal drug heroin. Together, the two municipal associations recently released a report, “Prescription for Action,” providing recommendations for how local government can work with stakeholders to curb the crisis that is affecting communities across all demographic categories. Read the report and connect with additional resources at http://opioidaction.org.

FACT: In the year 2000, 6,242 deaths due to opioid overdose were reported in the U.S. In 2014 (latest available data), nearly 30,000 people died of opioid abuse in the U.S.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

St. Cloud Aims Sky High
The City of St. Cloud is projected to increase its use of renewables from 5 percent in 2015 to 80 percent in 2018. The city tracks its energy use and has identified the three biggest energy buckets: water treatment, wastewater treatment, and street lighting. In 2014, the city began the work of improving efficiency and converting to renewable sources of power, especially solar, to target and reduce the footprint of these important municipal activities, Public Service Director Patrick Shea told Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs). One highlight: the city has a regional wastewater treatment facility that will soon incorporate a biofuel recovery system (methane collection) and solar to be a nearly energy-independent facility. Read the CERTs interview with Shea at http://bit.ly/2kAhVyL.

Trophy illustrationSubmit Your Entry Today for an LMC Award
Every day, Minnesota city officials throughout the state do outstanding work that promotes quality of life in our communities. The League of Minnesota Cities honors these special achievements each year with the City of Excellence Awards for city initiatives, C.C. Ludwig Award for elected officials, and James F. Miller Leadership Award for appointed officials. This is a great opportunity to showcase the good work your city and its leaders have done. The deadline to submit entries is May 5. Submit your entry today! Learn more at www.lmc.org/awards.

They Saw. They Clicked. You Fixed.
SeeClickFix—the popular web and mobile platform that allows users to easily report problems like vandalism, street light outages, and potholes to the staff of participating cities— reported reaching 1 million users and 300 government partners in 2016. Meanwhile, users embraced the power to improve their neighborhoods and campuses with a few taps on their screens. The number of reported issues jumped about 42 percent, while the number of issues that were then resolved kept pace, holding steady at a whopping 88 percent. Learn more at http://bit.ly/2lwBlCg.

ice skatesSkating Alive
The City of Montevideo is keeping the healthy tradition of outdoor ice skating alive and well among residents by helping newcomers to the pastime lace up. The city operates two sheets of outdoor ice with a staff warming house, and recently made minor updates and set more regular warming house hours. Since then, City Administrator Steve Jones said more kids have been stopping by interested in trying ice skating for the first time, but don’t have skates and are unlikely to get a pair without giving it a try first. So Jones put out a call to the community using social media and word of mouth to create a supply of skates available for residents to borrow. The skates are lined up by size in the warming house and available during staffed hours. In the first three weeks, the city collected 50 pairs and a lead on a skate sharpener.

Read the March-April issue of Minnesota Cities magazine

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